SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) — a treatment currently used to address recurring Clostridium difficile infection — is an effective approach to helping individuals who suffer ulcerative colitis (UC) reduce their symptoms and heal their digestive tract, according to a study presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2016.
Researchers in Australia found that one in four patients who were resistant or intolerant to conventional UC treatment — steroid or anti-inflammatories — achieved the study's dual goals: participants reported their symptoms went away and researchers determined, through endoscopic examination, that patients' digestive tracts improved, both without the use of steroids. Additionally, more than half the patients experienced symptom improvement with FMT.
"By using fecal microbiota transplantation, we aim to treat the underlying cause of ulcerative colitis instead of just its symptoms, as opposed to the majority of therapies currently available," said Sudarshan Paramsothy, MD, a gastroenterologist from the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Dr. Paramsothy and his team enrolled 81 patients across three Australian study sites — 41 receiving FMT treatment and 40 receiving placebo, or non-active treatment, who had active ulcerative colitis and were resistant to standard non-biologic treatments. Patients received the first FMT and placebo treatment through a colonoscope. Subsequently, participants were given enemas that were self-administered five days per week for eight weeks.
After eight weeks, more than three times as many FMT patients responded to treatment than those in the control group. Specifically, 11 of the 41 FMT patients (27 percent) achieved the study's primary goal — patients reporting no UC symptoms and doctors determining the lining of the digestive tract had healed or substantially improved. When researchers looked at just the number of patients reporting being symptom-free, they found that 44 percent of FMT patients reported improvement versus 20 percent in the control group.
"Our study is the first multi-centered trial that uses an intense therapy of FMT infusions, 40 over eight weeks, and has been able to show definitively that fecal microbiota transplantation is an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis," added Dr. Paramsothy. "This is important because there are millions of people worldwide seeking alternative treatments for their condition."
Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2016 is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. More information can be found at www.ddw.org.
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SOURCE Digestive Disease Week